I always knew I wanted to have kids. It never really was an option for my life. I never considered the alternative. It was just something that I was going to do, one way or another. I was going to grow up, get married, and have kids.
I didn’t figure in the divorce, second marriage, PCOS, or the resulting fertility issues, but those were just bumps along the windy path that got me to where I am today – married with two amazing kids. Somehow, through all the twists and turns I eventually got to where I always intended to be.
I am a mother.
I spent my entire life preparing for this enormous job. As a little girl I spent hours changing my baby dolls’ diapers, feeding them bottles, rocking them, and doing all of the things that I thought mothers did.
Then, as soon as I was old enough, I started babysitting. I watched the neighborhood kids and my parents’ friends’ kids. I kept an eye on my brother after school. I got paid to do what I thought was the best job ever.
When my sister got pregnant I tried to learn as much as I could. After my nephew was born I watched her take care of him. I sat back and admired her parenting skills. I learned how to give a baby a bath and how to warm his a bottles. I held him and took care of him every single chance I got and dreamed of what it would be like to hold my very own child. I loved him as if he were my own.
Years later, when I finally became pregnant with Zach, I read everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy and babies. I bombarded my sister (who was also pregnant at the time) with millions of questions. I researched and studied. I learned everything I could have possibly learned in preparation for his arrival.
When the day finally came I thought I was prepared for anything, but as any mother will tell you, you can never be prepared for everything.
What I missed, even with all of my research, was the one thing that nobody can really tell you. It’s not that they don’t want to tell you. They just don’t want to scare you. After all, it isn’t the same for every woman. What they don’t tell you is just how easy it is to lose yourself once that baby is born.
From the day that child comes into your world, they become your focus. They consume every spare minute of your time and every ounce of energy. It seems like you are always feeding, changing diapers, or lulling them to sleep. Your arms are rarely free during those first few months. When they are you want to do nothing in those few precious child-free moments, except maybe pick your beautiful baby back up and watch his chest rise up and down while he sleeps. At least that’s the way it is for me.
That’s why it is so easy to lose yourself. Between the crazy schedules, the sleepless nights, and the all-consuming love you have for your child the old “you” tends to get forgotten. You would think that I would have learned the first time around. The truth is, I did remember. This time I was going to do it right. I was going to make sure and make time for myself. I was going to keep doing those things that keep me sane. I was going to stay connected to my husband. I was going to get out of the house more often.
You know what they say about the best of intentions, right?
Having two children only magnified the effects. I tried desperately to keep up with my hobbies. I made promises to people only to find that I just couldn’t keep them. My house was is in shambles. I paid bills late. I spent too much money because I couldn’t keep on top of my checkbook. I felt disconnected from my husband and my friends and still do. I gained weight after losing the extra baby weight and couldn’t even think about the effort it would take to lose it again. I nearly quit updating my blog.
My daughter turned one year old last week and I am finally starting to feel the fog lifting. Most days my head feels clearer. Most nights I actually get to sleep for at least 6 hours straight. I feel the desire to go out with my husband sans kids. I’m ready to start eating better, exercising, and get my old body back. I’m ready to rock out at a concert, to dig deep into some web site code, to dig out my sewing machine and start using up the fabric I bought well over a year ago, and to really learn how to use my camera. I also want to play with my kids, snuggle on the couch, and enjoy every moment of their childhood because I know it will be over entirely too fast.
But, I feel myself surfacing again and it feels good. I’m ready to be me again – an individual – not just a mom.